Sunday, March 28, 2010

Joseph II Emperor of Austria Bust

I have begun painting a bust from Michael Miniatures of Joseph II, Emperor of Austria (1765-1790). I have been following the releases of this company for a long time and have been very impressed with their choice of subject matter and the work of their sculptors, Aaron Brown and my friend Matt Springer as well as a few others. Although these subjects aren't always my first choice (They don't do Romans you know) I do appreciate the detail and challenge of recreating the lace work or in this case a portrait painting.

This release is one of the companies earlier efforts and is really quite nice. The kit consists of two pieces, the bust and the turned support. Clean-up and assembly were therefore fairly straightforward with only a bit of work required that would be considered normal on any kit. I always like that as I take far more joy in painting than assembly.

After priming I began work on the face. I have assembled a series of in progress shots so that you can see the progression of my efforts to this point.

I began by mixing W&N Burnt Sienna with a bit of Prussian Blue to grey out the tone and lightening with Titanium White. This lightened flesh mixture was applied to the face and after sitting for a few minutes all excess paint was removed leaving a stain of color over all. I began mixing White, Cadmium Yellow Medium and a bit of Yellow Ochre as a highlight mixture and applied this to the larger planes of highlighted flesh, cheeks, forehead, nose, chin, ears, etc. As you work the highlights you get tighter and tighter with your work while at the same time increasing the amount of white in the mix. That being said you never use pure Titanium White, and after awhile you will experience diminishing returns on your efforts. This is the time to stop as continued work simply muddies your flesh. This is always the hardest thing to learn while working with oils as so little paint is required to achieve the desired results. (first photo)

The next step was to Work some Payne's Gray into the flesh around the chin to indicate the shadowing of facial hair. After that was completed I worked some Alizarin Crimson into the cheeks, top of the chin and tip of the nose to replicate the blushing complexion in the portrait painting. Both of these steps are done while the flesh is still wet. A bit of the Crimson was mixed into the edges of the eyes and on the lips. (second photo)

My earlier flesh highlight mix is now used on the dry face to further draw out highlights (third photo). Again once dry I began working on the shadows with a glaze of Burnt Umber. I also began work on the eyes by lightening the whites of the eyes with Titanium white glaze and applying a basic pupil/iris with Burnt Umber. The lips were further developed with Burnt Umber shadows and Crimson + White highlighting (fourth photo).

In the next step I worked on the details of the eyes by painting the iris first with Greenish Umber then adding a bit of Yellow Ochre in the center and lighting blending the edges of these two colors. Finally a dot of Mars Black was placed in the center to delineate the pupils. I also began laying in the hair, working on planes of color, highlight and shadow. Mars Black, Titanium White and a touch of Burnt Umber for warmth were used in this mix. (fifth photo)

In the final picture I have refined my highlights with Titanium White and Cad Yellow Medium, touched the eyebrows with Burnt Umber and White, and finally refined the eyes with Lamp Black for the pupils and a pure white "touch light" or reflection to give them some life. I have also painted the neck scarf and a portion of the color as well as the hair ribbon. These touches help frame the face so that I can be sure of my tones. Getting rid of all the surrounding white will effect how your eyes see the face you have painted. When using a white basecoat your face will always appear to dark until the outlining areas have been painted. (sixth photo)

I have included a picture of the painting that this bust is based on so that you can see how this piece should progress and where I have drawn my ideas from.

Joseph II Painting by Joseph Hickel (1736-1808) reproduced by the kind courtesy of the Cramer Museum.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Roman Gladiator Vignette Part 7

I know some of you may wonder what has happened to older unfinished projects that have seemingly disappeared from view on the pages of this blog. Have no fear I am still pushing forward on everything and you will no doubt see further postings this week for this gladiator vignette as well as the Mayan priest bust and a new series on a bust I am painting from Michael Miniatures. The weather has been lousy this week between rain and the return of the cold air.
I did get the padded left arm of this figure started and attached last weekend. I had held off on this until I felt the torso was at a point that wouldn't require my getting a paintbrush into certain areas. The figure is slowing coming along and I hope to get more done this weekend.

Friday, March 26, 2010

EMI 5th Macedonian Legion in Egypt

I have begun working on one of my older EMI kits. These kits in the Gladius line were what really got me started in the Roman subject matter as they were little vignettes in a kit and I always felt that put them a step above other offerings from manufacturers of the time. For those that never saw these kits EMI had a number of lines within their company's offerings, all based around themes, time periods or scale. The Gladius line were all sculpted by Adriano Laruccia of Soldiers fame and truly represented the owner of the company's area of interest. I remember him telling me that instead of putting his Roman figures on wooden bases he would use pieces of ancient Roman pottery as bases, pretty cool when you think about it. The figures were labled as limited editions but most can still be found if patient. The only ones I am missing are Caesar and Cleopatra GLC-05, Venetic Warrior GLC-04 and GLC-06 Votive sellers stall. The line also produced some single figures that weren't considered limited editions and sometime these are the hardest to locate. I have been wanting the very last in the line GLC15 for many years. This is a nice figure of Scipio Africanus in 54mm. If any of you have these kits and wish to part with them please let me know.
Anyway, this kit represents a East Roman Empire Stratiotes of the 5th Macedonian Legion in Egypt 540 AD (GLC-09). This is the backside of the Roman subject matter I like so much and with the recent release of so many Late period Roman figures from Soldiers I thought I would build and paint this piece as the outside end of the time period "bookend" of my Roman collection. Assembly was straightforward as always. None of the minor mold seams were very difficult to attack and using the usual needle files and sanding sticks as well as a quick buff with a soft brass wire brush the figure pits were ready in an hour or so. I have assembled most of the groundwork pieces included in the kit and attached them to a real nice Thomas Art Base that I have had for years. A little water was sculpted with A+B around the pier section and will be painted in oils along with the kit bits. All of the metal areas such as the helmet, shield boss, and mail shirt will be masked with Acrylic latex house paint and the figure primed for painting.

Friday, March 19, 2010

How I Spell Spring - H+A+R+L+E+Y!!

Well it may be only 55 degrees outside and no leaves on the trees, but I know winter is over when I bring my bike home from storage. I keep it at the dealer all winter, warm and cosy. I took it for a spin in the country to blow out the cobwebs and all is right in my world.

Obviously this has no direct connection to figure painting but my attitude has improved tremendously so maybe it will effect my painting in a good way. Now I'm off to the painting table for the evening and we shall see. Eddie Izzard on ITunes Radio and a smile on my face.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

EMI Roman Marine - Tunic and Groundwork

I have been working on our little EMI Roman Marine this past week or so and wanted to show my progress on the groundwork and figure. First I began work on the white tunic by applying a mixture of Raw Umber and Titanium White to the cloth tunic and adding rough shadows of pure Raw Umber which were blended wet-on-wet. Pure Titanium White was then used to pull out the broader highlights, again wet-on-wet. You can also see the first color that was applied to the sand, a Yellow Ochre, Titanium White mix. Please note in the photo how I carried the sand color partially out into the areas that were obviously sculpted as water waves. This will show through the painted "water" giving the hint of the thinning depth.

Next I mixed Prussian Green and Prussian Blue together to create my Mediterranean sea water. These two colors are fairly transparent and when applied thinly over the sand and white base coat create a very nice water color with a hint of the sand coming through at the beach. Now I am aware that this color is in all reality a bit unrealistic for so near the shore taken on it's own, however once completed the color in combination with the blue shield and the other colors will be less brilliant taken as a whole. My intention artistically here was to create a sunny, warm feeling and the end results will tell whether I have succeeded. Lastly, Titanium White was blended into the foaming edges of the waves and a thin line of deeper color added under the lip of the wave.

Once dry I began softening the sand color. I created a thinned mix of Raw Sienna and Titanium White, applying this to the area of sand that would be fairly dry. By adding a touch of Burnt Umber to the mix I was able to replicate the darker sand found closer to the water line. In addition Burnt Umber was blended around the shoes for softened shadows as well as around the edges of the sand/base join line to blur that stark divide. This was also stippled onto the back and sides. Lastly, Titanium White was softly blended in spots to break up the uniformity of the sand (mottling).

This last photo shows how I have completed the water with touches of pure Titanium White on the waves, foam and in spots on the sand nearest the water. Once fully dry I will dull coat the dry sand and apply bit of semigloss to the wet sand and gloss to the water but not the white tops of the small waves.
During this time I also continued work on the tunic building successively lighter layers of white. Once dry I will work a few more shadows in and line the edges in pure white to bring out some crisper edges. In addition I suddenly realized the error of my ways at the helmet as it should be bronze and so I base coated by hand with some Floquil lacquer and applied my usual mix of Yellow Ochre and Mars Black.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Soldiers SR-17 - Continued Progress

I have been slow in posting because I had a desire to get further along while taking progress shots that could be cropped and assembled together to show detailed steps in the painting process. This post is just such a montage and hopefully with the images so close to one another, it will be useful and informative to some. Let's focus on the leather armor first: My leather work started with a mixture of approx. half and half Burnt Umber and Mars Brown. Once dry I applied a shadow glaze of Van Dyke Brown and Mars Black around the edges of the leather flaps and up under the scale armor. This was allowed to dry and a wash of the same shadow color applied overall with a bit more black than brown in the mix. The effect of this is seen in the second frame of the group. My next step was to use straight Mars Brown on the raised edges and tops of creases/folds (third frame). First I tried using Burnt Sienna but W&N's paint is far too transparent to give me the effect I was looking for. The last step was to use a mixture of a bit of Yellow Ochre and Mars Brown mixed into Titanium White to replicate the worn edges of the pteruges and creases. Additionally the scale armor has been worked with pale gold printer's inks on the edges to pop out the details.

These two pictures show where the figure stands currently. I have added some color to the grasses with Greenish Umber and Yellow Ochre. This figure should be filthy from the campaign and the elements so I have begun to dirty him up. I initially stippled areas of the figure with a "muddy" mix of all the browns that were on my pallet paper. This was followed by dipping a stiff brush in thinner, making a thinned slurry of the mud mix and splattering the figure by drawing my thumb over the inverted brush over the lower extremities and allowing to dry. This process can be mentally frustrating after spending so much time painting all those details but the end results are worth it. After I glue the sword hand on I will use the same technique to get some blood splatters on the sword hand and armor.
Now I begin painting the shield details, sword, scabbard and belt details. Stay tuned.